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Alcohol changes how memories are formed at the molecular level

INQUIRER.net stock photo According to a study conducted by Karla Kaun, Emily Petruccelli and a team at Brown University in…

INQUIRER.net stock photo

According to a study conducted by Karla Kaun, Emily Petruccelli and a team at Brown University in the United States, published in the journal Neuron, a few glasses of alcohol change the evening road. Our memories are formed at the molecular level.

For the investigation, the researchers decided that they should investigate the role of molecules and genes in the coding of memories linked to reward systems.

Their starting point was a relatively simple question: why do people insist on consuming substances that have unpleasant effects on their bodies and minds? Abuse of drugs both hard and soft (opiates, alcohol etc.) often results in side effects that vary in intensity: nausea, vomiting, headache, hanger … Why are we just remembering the good emotions associated with these neurotoxins, and not bad

Working on fruitflies they trained to enjoy alcohol, the researchers investigated the roles of different genes and proteins involved in addiction and reward systems.

The first step was to identify molecules that change when there is a desire for alcohol or drugs or a sense of recall. An important aspect of the project can pave the way for new treatments for addicts, which reduces the intensity of pleasant memories associated with abuse.

The researchers found that one of the most important proteins that caused the flies to search for alcohol was “Hack”. Notch acts as the first domino in signaling pathways that play a role in embryo and brain development in all animals including humans.

The researchers also discovered that dopamine-2-like receptor genes involved in these pathways were also affected by alcohol. These genes produce a protein on neurons that recognize dopamine, an emotional neurotransmitter that is known to play a role in the coding of positive memories.

In the reward path they studied, researchers found that molecular signaling was unchanged and the amount of protein created was the same. However, there was a subtle change in the version of the protein produced.

Kaun explained their results with an analogy for people: “… A glass of wine is enough to activate the road, but returns to normal within an hour. After three glasses, at an hour’s intervals, the road does not return to normal after 24 hours. We believe this perseverance is likely to change the gene expression in memory circles. ” JB

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